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Insurgencies and Collective Consciousness

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Writer: Dr. Rupali Jeswal

Insurgencies always show a mismatch between recognised government and the demographic map of ethnic group. To make any insurgent movement successful, it needs a unifying objective and strong leadership and popular support. Insurgents tend to be highly adaptable and flexible, at least at the tactical and operational levels. Significant focus should be given to - Terrain Knowledge, Zone Maps, Cultural Mapped Intelligence and Swarming Tactics.


Population control plus mobilisation and intelligence gathering are two very vital tools to be used in counter-insurgency measures. Everyday an insurgent movement continues to exist; it tends to add legitimacy to the insurgent cause. As insurgents develop a strategic strike capability via terrorism, improved homeland security also must be seen as part of capability enhancement for counter-insurgency support. Fear binds us in the search for comfort and security. In such environments religious or political fundamentalism will self-perpetuate and become firmly entrenched in local culture. Conflict and Concept transformation approaches require analysis of conflict structures and reshaping the concept maps. Conflict can be used for positive or negative purposes. Used positively, conflict can help identify issues of injustice or oppression that need to be addressed. Used negatively, conflict can lead to violence and destruction. Focus should be on structural issues such as the allocation of resources, the creation of just and inclusive systems of governance and the reform of institutions. When we apply conflict transformation we engage in strategic Peace building. A highly analytical article on insurgencies that presents some very useful and unusual insights.

Indulging in verification techniques, empirical data and considering theoretical limitations led to this write-up. The ultimate goal of this column is to foster critical thinking, enhance and engage collaboration of experts in specific application domain to decipher collectively and act accordingly.

Every action a human takes, a decision made, is with a positive intent for itself, first. This decision-action undergoes transformation when this intent is expressed and made applicable, starting the wheels of cause and effect, which leads to transformation. The intent truly positive or absolutely negative depends on which side of the fence the actor and receiver are.

Focus in this column: Phenomenon of being a human and the internal and external factors, collective consciousness, insurgency and counter-insurgency measures.

Humans by nature are:

 

  • Territorial
  • Live through social cohesion
  • Isolation is demoralizing

John Donne’s eloquent lines from Meditation XVII his 1624 prose conveys the core of this need eloquently – “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main …”

Humans live by their cultural, zone-mapped values and form collective identity in this process.
They feel or want to feel part of the “main” and have:

  • A sense of security
  • A sense of belonging
  • A sense of purpose
  • A sense of personal competence and pride
  • A sense of trust
  • A sense of responsibility
  • A sense of contribution
  • A sense of self-discipline and self-control
  • A sense of encouragement, support and reward
  • A sense of accepting mistakes and failure
  • A sense of self-esteem
  • A sense of family unit

These are basic needs of a human being, when all of these needs are in jeopardy a disturbance in the human behaviour is seen, when this behaviour receives collective affective resonance, a collective consciousness is formed and the motivation to take action develops. Increasing evolution brings increasing complexities in human mechanism, which is correlated with increasing interior consciousness and gross external factors.

Affective resonance is which refers to person’s tendency to resonate and experience the same affect in response to viewing a display of that affect by another person (Biologically also, “mirror neurons”).

Affective resonance is considered to be the original basis for all human communication. This resonance forms collective consciousness which signifies "Joint or mutual knowledge," "Internal knowledge or conviction." Thus an autonomous individual comes to identify with a larger group/structure and as such, patterns of commonality amongst individuals bring legible unity to those structures. In simple terms when a common theme binds a group, collective consciousness is experienced and this can be seen in any groups of like minded people.

The four dimensions of cohesion:

  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Cooperation
  • Command

The level of loyalty a member holds for the team and the goals is based on clear exchange of information, which benefits in motivation, to work together in the accomplishment of team goals when adhering to the four dimensions mentioned above.

This assists in administrative and managerial role of directing and maintaining teams as they progress in accomplishing established goals. A sense of purpose develops organisational identification.

Social cohesion: Groups are cohesive when group-level conditions are producing positive membership attitudes and behaviours and when group members’ interpersonal interactions are operating to maintain the group’s level conditions. Thus, cohesive groups are self-maintaining and self-organising with respect to the production of strong membership attractions and attachments (This is seen in increasing amount in insurgent groups, terrorism cells and gang organisations).

Members of a highly cohesive group, in contrast to one with a low level of cohesiveness, are more concerned with their membership and are therefore more strongly motivated to contribute to the group’s welfare, to advance its objectives and to participate in its activities.

Insurgent’s collective consciousness and social cohesion brings subjective recognition to their revolutionary goals and to their grievances; in other words cognitive liberation towards a common thought and belief that the political and economic system is unjust and vulnerable to change. Collective attribution comes when organisations help individuals by giving merit to their grievances and recognise the commonness and the movement emerges.

One of the ironies and problems with insurgency is that the regime facing one often does not recognise it or denies it until the insurgency has had time to coalesce and develop. The insurgents always begin a conflict with a strategic initiative and a unifying objective, which makes them unpredictable and constantly fluid.

This asymmetric power projection also picks up momentum in today’s era due to globalisation. Insurgency is a holistic threat; counter-insurgency strategies must also then be holistic in nature.

The brain-behaviour perspective
Emotional meaning: Ideologies, which create emotions and meanings within an individual.
Emotional support: Members of the group share the same feelings and each individual lends support to another that promotes the feeling of solidarity with the group, the collective cause and collective identity.

Self-expansion: Once the collective identity takes root the group propels towards expansion, which means designing and executing their collective ideas into action.

Innate markers
1. Challenging acts do not happen in a vacuum (Connectedness).
2. Emotion-Reaction-Action (E-R-A) occurs in response to identifiable stimuli (Convergence - an approach to achieve a balanced equilibrium in one’s internal and external mechanics).
3. Consequences that follow the above form the base for the next event (Continuity for the cause).
4. Emotion-Reaction-Action is a form of Communication.
5. E-R-A always has a purpose either to get something or to avoid or escape something.

Which strategy makes more sense to be used in counter insurgencies if we keep the holistic facts mentioned above? As Clausewitz reminds us, “The first, the supreme and the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make” is to understand “the kind of war on which they are embarking, neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.”

How does decline of an insurgency come about?
Is it because of Repression by the authorities, lack of leadership within that movement, due to success where their goals are met, or because the organisation becomes established in the mainstream?

This “war amongst the people” is a struggle by both state and non-state actors to employ strategies that gain influence and control over the “relevant population(s).

So how does one do this?

A Sisyphean task indeed but past records show that strategic methods have been employed to influence a population -
a) Method of winning “hearts and minds”
b) Coercive strategy of force and threat of violence


Counter-measures
A government is an organisation and the applicability of its internal resources must bring effective results externally. This fact is defined from an operational level than from a political level. Decision-making has to invoke the entire process; that is after the aftermath of the application of that decision. Despite globalisation, in fact more so because of globalisation ethnic distinctiveness still remains and has a powerful influence on collective consciousness.

Insurgencies always show a mismatch between recognised government and the demographic map of ethnic group. To make any insurgent movement successful, it needs a unifying objective and strong leadership and popular support. Insurgents tend to be highly adaptable and flexible, at least at the tactical and operational levels.

Prime focus should be given to - Terrain Knowledge, Zone Maps, Cultural Mapped Intelligence and Swarming Tactics.
Population control plus mobilisation and intelligence gathering are two very vital tools to be used in counter-insurgency measures.
Everyday an insurgent movement continues to exist; it tends to add legitimacy to the insurgent cause.

Intelligence itself is Two pronged - first a tool for coercive force, second a tool of management and prevention. Role of intelligence is not just for tactics to neutralise but also to link the information with deep core issues and to utilise the information for conflict transformation and for applying peace-building strategies.

Delinking and desourcing
Delinking insurgent movement from its internal and external support by understanding and destroying the political, logistics and financial connections also depends primarily on superior results of accurate information collected and deciphered and made into applicable intelligence.

Desourcing the insurgent movement both by curtailing funding streams and causing it to waste existing resources. Both of these require specific methodology.

For non-military strategies, instituting political and economic reforms requires diplomatic leadership and leverage, political acumen and economic expertise.

Covert infrastructure requires police and criminal intelligence techniques.
Together a controlled environment might be established.

When identification of specific zones takes place a secure base of operation is set, this could aid the government to control and reduce the area in which insurgents operate, this is opposite of “brute force” as chasing them will only allow them to regroup elsewhere.

Matrix organisation
Adaptability can be maximised by an institution, that stresses it and gives maximum autonomy to lower level leaders. Then comes sustained capability enhancement. This includes leader development, war-gaming, concept development, research and analysis, professional education, focused training and red-teaming.

Consideration for rapid creation of effective local security and intelligence forces is also a focus in matrix organisations.

Cauterisation: The strengthening of states surrounding the state facing an insurgency will aid in setting a controlled environment to assist in neutralising the movement. Also a strategic damage can be contained should the insurgency escalate or become uncontrollable.

Capability enhancement should include increasing the ability and willingness of regional states and other regional security organisations to provide counter-insurgency support.

As insurgents develop a strategic strike capability via terrorism, improved homeland security also must be seen as part of capability enhancement for counter-insurgency support.

Counter-insurgency interventions need the provision for training and equipment based on conditions at hand rather than on preconceived notion influenced by preferred worst-case scenarios. Basic assumptions and probabilities should be utilised when constructing threat prediction maps.

Conflict and Concept transformation approaches require analysis of conflict structures and reshaping the concept maps. This analysis can serve as a basis for a longer-term assessment of conflict-related areas of risks.

What is conflict sensitivity?
- Understanding the operational context
- Understanding the interactions between an intervention and that context

Transformation
As with any form of energy, conflict can be used for positive or negative purposes. Used positively, conflict can help identify issues of injustice or oppression that need to be addressed. Used negatively, conflict can lead to violence and destruction.

A focus on structural issues such as the allocation of resources, the creation of just and inclusive systems of governance and the reform of institutions that have benefited some groups while harming others. When we apply conflict transformation we engage in strategic Peace building.

The science of conflict transformation is grounded in a research-informed understanding of the stages of conflict and the ways conflict both changes and is changed as a result of the perceptions and actions of individuals and groups. The art of conflict transformation involves matching specific interventions, including:
- Non-violent advocacy
- Peace-making
- Mediation
- Facilitation
- Negotiation

These points are to a particular conflict, at a specific time in order to alter the perceptions, relationships and behaviours of the parties involved in the conflict.

Transformation is endless; it is needed to anticipate the next step. It deals with co-evolution of concepts and processes.
Accurately prepared target inventory is a systematic way for violence prediction and risk analysis. The value of the cells can be low, medium or high and the scores are then computed to determine which targets are the most vulnerable and have the highest damage potential to the community.

- Probability of attack refers to the likelihood of that location being chosen as a target.
- Threat to security refers to the probability that security at the location could be breached.
- Impact of attack refers to the number of people who may be harmed by an attack.

Conclusion
Everything counts even if in small amounts.
Threat matrix and conflict trends should be observed critically for accurate awareness - of zones of conflict, culturally shaped mindsets, availability of natural resources and the lack of it. The ultimate ratio for the use of irregular methods of war is to achieve political results although religion, culture, ethnicity and technology remain important elements of irregular warfare. Refocus on current strategies, tactics and the aftermath should be employed to decipher loopholes to reinvent measures, transfer the knowledge into action and reconnect the dots. Dexterity when employing situational awareness results in building new competencies and efficiency due to awareness of new incoming information, comprehension of its meaning in the context and designing prediction maps significant for projection of future status due to the ever-changing and fluid nature of this warfare.


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